When I was about four or five, my family used to go out from time to time to the Golden Corral to eat with friends after church on Sundays. Back then (for us, at least) that was a pretty nice restaurant. For some reason, my brother and I started passing time in the car inventing stories about food fights that broke out at the old GC. Every time, the story was different, and they tended to grow larger over time, but they more or less all started with someone slipping on a banana peel and dumping their buffet plate on someone else. Yadda, yadda, yadda, chaos ensues. Just recently my kids discovered banana peels and their reputation for being slippery, and I suddenly found myself cast back 20 (oh, okay, 30) years. I don’t remember the details, but I’m hoping this recreation can be as entertaining to my kids as the originals were to us.
I’ll never forget the day my family first took me to the infamous Golden Corral. I’d heard of the place: endless rows of steaming vegetables and breaded meats, dinner rolls piled up to the sky, and mashed potatoes with that one-of-a-kind boxed taste. It was every kid’s dream, and mine was about to come true. When we walked through that second set of double doors, I stopped and sniffed the air. It was pure cafeteria. I had never been so excited.
I was halfway through my chicken fried steak and thinking about a second helping of mashed potatoes when I saw a woman walk in the front door wearing a dress so pink that it hurt my eyes and carrying a poofy little dog that reminded me of the end of my grandmother’s mop. I barely had time to wonder why anyone would bring a dog to an all-you-can-eat restaurant before the dog launched himself out of his owner’s arms and literally flew straight at a man who was passing by with a plate full of roast beef.
Seeing something small and white and furry flying toward his head, the man jumped back, landing right on the edge of someone’s table and sending two bowls of pudding and a banana split smashing down onto the ground. The man was clearly embarrassed, and he backed away quickly, apologizing and clutching his injured hip with one hand and his plate of roast beef with the other hand. Unfortunately, he didn’t see that the dog was now right under his feet. He tripped, dumping his plate of roast beef all over a dignified man in a nice Sunday suit.
The man jumped up, outraged, waving his spoon around and causing bits of noodle soup to fly in every direction. The longest noodle landed with a splat on the face of a nearby woman. It must have been hot because she yelped a really loud “Yeeeeeep!” and shot up out of her chair, immediately stepping on the peel from the banana split and sliding ten feet only to collide with a mother who was carrying three glasses of ice cold Sprite. The Sprite fountained up into the air as the two women tumbled to the floor.
The teenagers at the next table, now covered in Sprite, took one look at the chaos and gave each other big smiles. In seconds, two big handfuls of mashed potatoes were flying across the room.
Then two potato-splattered strangers were launching canned peaches back into the crowd. Then a little girl with peaches in her hair was running through the restaurant throwing handfuls of peas in every direction. Then a grandmother was pegging people with small pieces of corn bread. Then a family of four, huddled under a table, was firing corn and green beans at everyone in sight. Someone poured gravy all over the floor. Someone else was using a fried chicken leg as a sword.
I had never seen anything so crazy in all my short life. Pretty soon everyone in the restaurant was in on the fight. I may have thrown a handful or two of mini corn cobs myself. The last thing I remember seeing before the fireman burst through the door with hoses to clean the place up and shock everyone back to their senses was the little white dog over under a corner table, happily slurping up gravy with bits of chocolate cake floating in it.